Thursday, April 05, 2012

Busy, busy!

I've been busy. I know, I just said that! "Busy doing what", you ask? Well, my First Aid business needed my attention, Revenue Canada is being a pain in the neck (I'm being generous. Lower down.). Motorcycle training season is starting. Back and forth to Toronto for business and family stuff. Planning workshops, and writing the manual for training courses.

I'm an American Idol fan. Joshua, Jessica and Philip. You read it here first. I'm also a Big Bang Theory fanatic, and Stephen Hawking is guest starring tonight! It's such a great show, and not just because I grew up with a "Sheldon Cooper".  So I've been watching that in the evenings.

Accolades and Neat Stuff
I've been asked to do a couple of seminars and workshops next season and accepted readily. I know precisely what I want to do, but I have to work on the material. I'm waiting on my first Freelance assignment for the Highlander Newspaper. I'm planning my first photo workshop up here in a month or so. My Michipicoten Light image has been put up on several websites (and Naturally Superior Adventures is using my video on their site with permission). I'm now about halfway through "Behind the Camera and in front of the Computer™" which is a manual directed at people teaching and taking basic photography courses.

See? I'm busy!

But I'm not as busy as Dr. Ron who takes over as President of the American Cosmetic Dentists Association this week. "It's a whole other full-time job," he told me. I wished him luck and asked if I need to find accommodations for the Secret Service when he comes up to visit next month! He still has time to print pictures and submit them to the Richmond Hill Camera Club competitions, where he took two First Place and one Second Place ribbons in 'Yoda' class this month. He's so talented! If you click the link above, you come to the RHCC home page where there's a display of winning images from the latest competition. Look for the cape buffalo shots and the wolf. By the way, his "Oxpecker on Cape Buffalo" image scored a perfect "30" in the competition, first I've seen.

There are some really outstanding images by RHCC members this month. I'm humbled.

Landscape pictures
A couple of weeks ago, I posted some pictures of an old truck that sits outside the Argyle Blacksmith Shop and antique store. I commented that there was a huge spiderweb in the window. I was back a few days ago and guess what? Another missed opportunity! It was gone.  But I did get this picture nearby.

Disused. There are lots of these run down farm buildings in rural Ontario, elsewhere too I'm sure. This one caught my eye because it was just at sunset and the light was a golden glow. Not in the sky, though: that was pure, bluebell, boring blue. So I merged two different HDR pictures (the ground done in Nik HDR Efex and the sky in Photomatix pro). I kept the warm colour temperature and painted in the setting sun using Viveza. The picture lacked that balancing structure, so I painted the two birds from scratch. This image needed a lot of post-processing but it will make a fine, large art print.
Speaking of missed opportunities: I came back from a walk yesterday and saw what I think was a Golden Eagle hunting in the sky over my property behind my house. I ran inside, grabbed the long lens... but alas he was gone. I did see this, though:

Moonclouds. No, this isn't a composite image. The rising, waxing gibbous almost full moon was playing peekaboo in the clouds. All I did was to add some contrast,  adjust the exposure and crop the image slightly in Lightroom 4.1. It might be out there again tonight: we'll see!
It was quite windy yesterday and the sky was populated by puffy clouds as you see. I've shot this stuff before, and shots in the middle of the day, or even late day, are boring in flat, bright sunlight. So I was looking for a way to change things up, and I happened to think about my 10-stop Neutral Density filter. I took it, with the wide-angle lens out for a walk. With tripod and cable release, of course!

The filter adds a dreamy look to water, even when there's nothing really going on.

The Red Umbrella Inn, shot from near my dock. This was a 15-second exposure and although there was nothing really happening, the water has a milky smooth texture and even the inn has a soft creaminess to it. Not what you would expect to see on a sunny afternoon.
Remember the picture of the boat upside down on the dock, that I mentioned is about to be published in PhotoED magazine?

Here's another shot of it yesterday. It didn't fare too well over the winter!

Still Waiting and More Weathered. What makes this shot for me is the light. Also the texture of the water, compared to the boat and the wood. As I said, the ND filter and long time exposure (15 seconds) adds a creamy smoothness and texture. All I did to this picture was to clean up a few spots (I need to clean my sensor again) and touch up some texture issues. I burned in the board at right, it was too bright and distracting.
Now this shot, and the next one, were taken blind. With the filter mounted on the lens, you can't see through the camera. I could have unscrewed the filter and recomposed and refocused, then put the filter back, but I'm essentially a lazy guy... so I left it in place, kept the camera focused almost to infinity, and pointed it where my instincts told me it should look.

Reach for the Sky. The clouds moved, of course, during the 15 second exposure. So did the evergreen trees but the bare tree did not. A surreal look at an otherwise ordinary day.
Perhaps I'll wander over to my favourite whitewater spot and see what's doing there! Catch you later!

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